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One of the biggest problems within the scientific community is the amount of research that is not being submitted in writing for peer review. Ideally, all results would be quickly written up so that further study and important collaboration can follow. Why do so many investigators procrastinate writing up their studies? The key to writing good science, according to William Zinsser, the late writer, editor, and teacher and author of On Writing Well, is to transfer clear logical thinking to paper, or as Steven Pinker refers to it in his latest book, The Sense of Style, establishing an "arc of coherence". Experiments are performed using a logical methodology, and studies must be written up logically as well.

Scientists demand excellence of themselves and poor performance in anything is not acceptable. As writing itself may not be a researcher’s strongest skill, it can be especially challenging for non-native English-speaking authors who lack confidence in expressing their research in English. Fear of failure is something that even the most successful people face, often in areas in which they have already been able to achieve a great deal of success.

 Scientists who are slow to write up their research for others to read and assess will not benefit from the input of others, or the ability to move their science forward. For this reason, all successful scientific researchers eventually must find ways to push past fear and procrastination so that others can read, collaborate, and expand on their findings. How can the writing process be streamlined so that communicating your science to the world does not hamper you from actually doing your science? By filling out a simple form throughout the experimental process, you will save time and money on the experiment itself, and writing up the results will be a faster process, allowing you to submit a clearly written paper for publication promptly after you obtain your results.

For those who struggle with writing, SciTechEdit International offers a simple solution to make writing less threatening. Follow a simple format when getting your thoughts down on paper; doing this will take the agony out of writing. The process comprises only five steps: the Introduction, Method, Results, Discussion, and Abstract.

In the Introduction, clearly identify the question explored and what led you to perform the study. To fully engage the reader, try to demonstrate some of the passion that you have for this research by describing the relevance and importance.

Next, describe in detail the methods used to address your question. The Materials and Methods should provide enough detail for a reader to replicate the study. This is the simplest part of the manuscript, but because often the methods of the study are rote for the researcher, important details may be inadvertently left out. You want the reader to understand exactly how you performed the experiment.

In the Results, you should focus exclusively and concisely on your findings. Your findings should be supported by statistical evidence when appropriate and with extremely descriptive sentences as well as figures and tables. All statistical analyses must be complete, appropriate, and adequately interpreted. Prepare tables and figures as necessary to provide the reader with a picture of your findings.

How your findings relate to the question presented in the Introduction is key to beginning the Discussion. The Discussion is where you describe your interpretation of the findings and their relation to previous findings. Clarifying the issues and interpreting each in relation to previous evidence is essential. Cite historically important and highly relevant prior studies. Experts agree that a good discussion helps the reader to understand the importance of the study and to be interested in the follow-up as well as your future studies.

Finally, write the Abstract, which is the summary of your entire study. This should be brief, usually about 250 words. Summarize the entire manuscript when it is complete. Many authors begin by writing the Abstract, but not only will your abstract be more clear and descriptive of your study if you write it last, writing it will go much more quickly.

Remember to use an active voice, appropriate terminology for the target audience, and clear, professional English to make the story more interesting and readable. Great papers are well organized and written with sentences that are easy to understand. One idea should be presented per sentence.

It is important for the writer to remember that their readership is global. Your clear writing style will help you to connect with your reader. Writing is a learned skill, which must be cultivated over many years for most individuals. A highly talented and skilled research scientist is not necessarily a talented and skilled writer. Save time by seeking help writing your papers. Having your manuscripts reviewed by native English-speaking colleagues or professional science editors will drastically increase the probability that your manuscript will be accepted for peer review and publication.

An important key to success in any field is to understand what you do well and to build on those abilities. Your research is important. Do what you do best, and let SciTechEdit International help you publish by letting us do what we do best. Download the worksheet below to help speed up the manuscript writing process.

 

Click here to download our Manuscript Pre-Writing Worksheet

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